Calvin Chin started martial arts at 12 years of age and had considerable success in Uechi Ryu Karate, becoming a teacher in just three years. At that time, Karate was probably the prevailing martial art in the U.S. After five years he was tested and promoted by grandmaster Kanei Uechi, becoming one of the youngest black belt recipients in the Uechi system.
But the soft-spoken Chin gave it up to study with Kwong Tit Fu, a recent immigrant from Hong Kong to the Boston area who required him to give up his previous martial arts training. Chin subsequently studied with him for 27 years, becoming a teacher and indoor student and Kwong’s principle disciple.
In the cover article, Chin spoke of the traditional method of teaching, in which many masters were reluctant to reveal the hard-earned treasures of their own practice.
Learning T’ai Chi Ch’uan for health and recreation has its own challenges, but learning it as an art or martial art requires considerable patience, insight and hard training.
Many of the masters I have interviewed and much of the serious literature refer to these requirements but often it is not clear what the meaning is of patience, insight and hard training.
After all, what is hard training? Is it physically hard? Getting into deep postures? Doing strenuous fajin or strength and power building exercises?
Often these training methods are hard physically because initially the student does them wrong, using too much strength.
Chin pointed out that over time the consistent practitioner learns to delete strength and not use more than is necessary to accomplish a task. Then it becomes easier, but maybe not a whole lot easier.
The hard part often is persevering until there is an understanding with the mind and the body of how they should work together in a natural way.
Sometimes that understanding does not arrive for a long time, or only partially, or maybe never. That is what is referred to as learning to eat the bitter. Have you tasted it? If you taste it long enough, it can become an acquired taste.
Even if you do eventually get to some advanced understanding with body and mind together, the hard effort never really stops. If you are really serious, there is always more bitter to taste.
Yaron Seidman of Little Neck, NY, tackles the difficult task of examining the role of qi in T’ai Chi Ch’uan. And also its “non-role.” He compares the role of the scientific approach to T’ai Chi and the qi approach, suggesting that both have something to offer.
He also suggests that strength training, or research, has an important role and quotes two highly regarded masters on the subject.
His article provides useful insights into qi, which is often misunderstood outside of China.
In addition to teaching T’ai Chi, Seidman is also a licensed acupuncturist and sometimes serves as a translator of Chinese.
Daniel K. Wong of Manitoba, Canada, tells more about his experiences in Hong Kong with Yang Shao-zhong, eldest son of Yang Cheng-fu.
Wong tells about some of the self-defense and push hands training that he had with Yang and some of the skills that Yang demonstrated. In this article, he describes some specific self-defense techniques and the manner in which Yang taught push hands.
Peter Wu, who studied with Hong Jun-sheng, also demonstrates some specific self-defense techniques, focusing on Lu, Pull.
Wu, who teaches in Melbourne, Australia, has written articles for T’AI CHI Magazine about the skills of Hong, who studied with the famous Chen Fa-Ke. There are always multiple techniques within such techniques as Lu, or Pull.
Even beyond the physical techniques, which can be quite skilled, there are internal aspects of the same techniques involving jin, or internal strength, and use of the mind.
Internal strength, it should be noted, has its Yin and Yang aspects so that it is flexible, as well as strong. It is this flexibility that makes T’ai Chi such a valuable practice.
Injuries are an inherent problem of sports and martial arts, even for slow moving systems like the Yang and Wu styles.
Brian Fu of Sugar Land, TX, a disciple of Cheng Jin Cai, writes about some of the common injuries and their treatment according to Western medicine and Chinese Traditional Medicine. Fu is a licensed massage therapist and Chinese Herbalist.
He is also a gold medalist in national championships and currently teaches at the International Chen Style Tai Chi Development Center in Houston.
Alex Yeo of Singapore continues his series on the Yang style, reviewing some of the more prominent versions of the Yang style.
In the title for his article he uses a question mark after “Complete” to indicate that it is not really possible to be complete about the various versions of the Yang style.
There is not good documentation about systems created more than 75 years ago and he explains what is available.
Alex Yeo provides a valuable service in providing an impartial review of what we can find out.
A newspaper obituary from the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Tzeng-yu “Tom” Huang, a long time T’ai Chi Ch’uan teacher in the Cleveland area, died October 23 after an auto accident.
Huang, 76, moved to the U.S. from Taiwan in 1969 and taught Chinese literature and philosophy at the high school level and Wu style T’ai Chi at DeMing College. He also taught T’ai Chi at China Treasure House in Cleveland Heights since 1973 and at various other locations.
Huang was born in Hebei, China, and moved to Taiwan shortly before the Communists took over the mainland.•